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Vile threats made by couple who kept a tourist as a slave in their home for three years


Couple who kept a tourist as a slave in their home for three years made vile threats to stop her from leaving Australia – and hired a private investigator when she escaped

  • Shiela and Joshua McAleer lured a woman from Philippines to Australia in 2013
  • Woman, who can’t be named, was kept as a house slave for three years in Sydney
  • She was also required to work at couple’s restaurant, where she wasn’t paid
  • Woman escaped in 2016, the McAleer’s are now facing 10 years behind bars 

A woman who was kept as a slave for three years has revealed the vile threats a couple made to stop her from leaving Australia.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons – lived in Rockdale, in Sydney’s south, with restaurant owner couple Shiela and Joshua McAleer from 2013 to 2016.

She was lured to Australia from the Philippines after the husband and wife helped secure her a three-month visa.

The woman saw it as a chance of a new life, having never travelled previously as well as an opportunity to earn more money for her family. 

Shiela and Joshua McAleer (pictured) lured a woman from the Philippines to Australia in 2013 to work in the family home and multiple businesses in Sydney’s south

Sheila McAleer told the victim not to socailise with another Filipino people and made her work round the clock, often without pay

Sheila McAleer told the victim not to socailise with another Filipino people and made her work round the clock, often without pay

But soon after the victim arrived in Australia, she found herself working at least six days a week and was restricted as to who she could see and where she could go.  

She was discouraged from socialising with other Filipinos in the local community, forbidden to be in a relationship, and told to use a fake name in public. 

When her visa expired and she asked the leave, the victim was told she could not leave until she paid back her travel expenses, news.com.au reported. 

‘If you go back before you pay me back I know people in the Philippines in the police and higher up and who I can hire to harm you or your family if you go home early,’ she was told by the couple.  

And when she wasn’t providing round the clock care for the McAleer’s children as a maid, the woman was forced to work at the couple’s Filipino restaurant or one of their other businesses, including a grocer.

 ‘I did not know when I came that I would have to work 24 hours a day. I  also did not get paid for my work,’ the woman said in her victim impact statement.

‘I felt like a slave but I didn’t say anything,’ she also said. ‘I feel it would have been better not to come (to Australia). I had no power to change my situation’. 

A few weeks after the woman arrived, Shiela McAleer (pictured) organised a passport and three-month tourist visa, which meant the Filipino tourist was unable to work elsewhere

A few weeks after the woman arrived, Shiela McAleer (pictured) organised a passport and three-month tourist visa, which meant the Filipino tourist was unable to work elsewhere

When the victim eventually did flee the home in October 2016, the McAleers hired a private detective to track her down.

Court documents show Mr McAleer wrote to the investigator: ‘I have friends who have told me they have seen her driving around with another mail [sic] in the Sutherland area over the weekend and I have had my suspicions as well for a while now.

‘I would like you to locate his home address and try to see if (the woman) is with him.’ 

The victim also labelled Mrs McAleer a ‘cruel person’ and admitted she still fears the couple. 

The McAleers, who pleaded guilty to multiple charges of including conducting a business involving the forced labour of another person, harbouring an unlawful non-citizen and making a false statement for health benefits, offered the victim $70,000 in financial compensation, their barrister told a sentencing hearing on Thursday.

They will be sentenced on June 11 and both face a maximum of 10 years behind bars.

Shiela McAleer has guilty to several offences, including harbouring an unlawful non-citizen and making a false statement for health benefits

Shiela McAleer has guilty to several offences, including harbouring an unlawful non-citizen and making a false statement for health benefits

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